On Friday, the Trump Administration made the decision to gut the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate, which allows access to birth control through employer insurance at no out-of-pocket cost. The mandate saved women $1.4 billion in 2013 alone. While it does not get rid of the mandate altogether, the new rule, set to take place immediately, does create a huge loophole, allowing any employer to refuse to cover contraception, as long as they cite religious or moral reasons. This decision has the potential to impact the millions who now receive birth control at no cost through their employers as a form of preventative care.
Even more unsettling is the administration’s reasoning behind this decision. They cite health risks, claiming that the Obama-era mandate could “promote risky sexual behavior among teenagers and young adults,” in spite of the fact that data shows teen sexual engagement has not increased even though birth control has become more widely available. Even if this was not true, access to birth control should not be contingent on the Trump Administration’s opinions surrounding what appropriate sexual engagement or behavior is. Trying to limit access to birth control is no more than another thinly-veiled attempt at controlling women’s bodies and sexual autonomy. Additionally, birth control is used to treat a variety of other medical conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome and primary ovarian insufficiency.
Despite being pro-life, Republicans have consistently fought against birth control access, even though it has been shown to decrease teen pregnancy and abortion rates. There have consistently been substantial decreases in teen pregnancies as birth control and contraception availability have increased. Between 2007 and 2014, the teen pregnancy rate decreased by as much as 50% among certain populations, which experts attributed to an increase in birth control and better birth control methods, not to a decline in sexual engagement. Contraceptive access is essential for both healthy mothers and babies. Preventative contraception allows mothers to have well-planned and well-spaced pregnancies, a crucial part of ensuring healthy pregnancies for both mothers and babies.
Though they claim to want to protect the unborn, Republicans have shown time and time again that they have no true regard for children. Just days ago, they let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expire, putting the enrolled 9 million children at risk. Trump’s latest decision puts his and the party’s complete and utter disregard for the health and rights of women and children alike on full display.
The decision has sparked outrage from many and the ACLU has already announced that it intends to sue the administration over Trump’s contraceptive rule.
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